How Success Happened for Race Car Driver Matthew Sisson
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“Pedal-to-the-metal” is a euphemism that many people embrace but few actually live by. Matthew Sisson sees it as more than a motto. It’s an instruction shouted through an audio earpiece by a familiar voice. He is urged to keep pushing forward as his speedometer climbs into the triple digits.
” I want to drive a race car. “
Most parents of children a certain age will hear this phrase at least once, wedged between professed aspirations to be an astronaut or a firefighter. Matthew Sisson’s parents, like many others, entertained the idea as a fleeting dream that would soon be replaced by a grander career plan. But much to his mother’s despair, he meant every
” The moment I saw a calendar of sports cars at the Scholastic Book Fair in grade one, I knew that I was going to be a car enthusiast for my whole life. I was immediately convinced that, despite barely knowing how to ride a bicycle, I would be piloting a Dodge Viper if I just saved my pocket money until I was 16,” Sisson says. “But, at the time I borrowed my older brother’s car for my driving test, I realized that I needed a solid path to professional success to make that dream come true. “
“There is an incredible amount of talent rising through the junior ranks of racing in the United States at the moment,” Sisson explains, “but these kids typically have a lot of money behind them, providing them the opportunity to prove themselves and climb the ranks. My family has been supportive in all aspects of my life, but the financial realities of racing are overwhelming, so I knew I had no choice but to do it on my own. “
Start your engines
Now 28, Sisson is well along that path. After studying at Oxford University and the University of Colorado he returned home to his mother in New York to start an entry-level position as an investment banker. Although he was jealous of his friends’ move into East Village apartments with many roommates, he kept his home and saved every penny to chase the dream. He made his dream come true a few years later.
” “It’s not as easy as other disciplines to be a successful racing driver,” I remind him, “it’sn’t like basketball where you can hit a gym every day and practice until your opponent is defeated.” Although I spent hundreds of hours on a simulator at home, every day on the track costs thousands of dollars and a mistake can lead to serious financial losses. “
The resources required to go racing fueled Sisson to chase professional success, and four years after graduating from college, he spends more time in a suit and tie as VP of Sales for an investment data firm in Manhattan than he does donning fireproof racing gear at the track. He was able to afford one year of racing and was able to get the money to rent a RosMar Racing race car from Mark Gregory. It was obvious that he felt at home immediately. With encouragement and track-side support from Gregory, he abandoned the thought of a 401k, poured his life savings into a truck, trailer, and race car, and set out to make a name for himself on the amateur racing circuit.
The road to a championship
While confident in his ability, Sisson knew he was operating on a shoestring budget compared to the big teams and was well aware that he jumped straight into the deep end and needed to learn how to swim, fast. He was able to finish on the podium alongside much more experienced drivers his first weekend in his brand new car. He did it again. And again. And again. He was crowned champion after he won the podium finishes.
While he attributes his desire to race to his insatiable hunger for career advancement, he found that the two were more closely connected than he expected. “The mentality and sacrifices required for success in racing mirrors the success stories of all other successful people. He says that he slept in his truck for the entire first season. The idea that you can plan to handle every possibility is the same. You plan as best you can, but you have to be flexible and adapt to the unexpected. You need to surround yourself and your team with incredible people who are invested in your success. However, you must also know that your individual effort will be what separates you from the rest of the pack. “
Stay tuned: Sisson plans to campaign a GT4 car for next year’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. It will air on NBC Sports.
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